Dozens of Democrats chanted “Breonna Taylor” throughout Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s speech at the 142nd annual picnic hosted by St. Jerome Catholic Church on Saturday. The event occurred just two days after the U.S. Department of Justice charged four current and former Louisville Metro police officers in connection with Taylor’s death.
Cameron’s office served as the special prosecutor in Taylor’s case. Since U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the DOJ’s findings on Thursday, Cameron has faced renewed criticism over his office’s investigation of police actions.
Cameron’s team charged only one officer, former detective Brett Hankison, with three counts of wanton endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors. No one was charged with any crimes for Taylor’s death at the state level, and Hankison was found not guilty in a jury trial in March of this year.
During his speech at the annual picnic on Saturday, Cameron told law enforcement that he would “always have your back and we will always support the blue,” which prompted an applause from Republican attendees. He also boasted about being endorsed by “over 50 law enforcement officials,” according to the Lexington Herald Leader.
However, despite projecting his voice during his speech, Cameron was difficult to hear over the chants.
Charles Booker, a progressive Democrat who is currently running for Senate against incumbent Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in the upcoming election, reportedly encouraged the crowd to chant Taylor’s name, as he was seen nodding and raising his fist. The chanting continued until after Cameron left the stage, at which point Booker then led the crowd in a “call-and-response chant of Taylor’s name.”
Ahead of his speech, Cameron told reporters that the two officers who shot Taylor, now-retired Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and ex-detective Myles Cosgrove, didn’t use excessive force that night during the botched deadly raid. Cameron didn’t mention the federal charges or Taylor’s case while on stage.
“I know folks have very strong feelings about this case … but we have a responsibility to not give into any preferred narrative,” Cameron said. “We have a responsibility to do right by the laws of Kentucky, and that’s what we did.”
The DOJ charged Hankison with two counts of deprivation of constitutional rights — one count for Taylor and Kenneth Walker II, Taylor’s boyfriend, and a second count for three of Taylor’s neighbors. Federal charges against three other current and former officers stem from the alleged falsification of an affidavit to search Taylor’s home ahead of the flawed raid, as well as a “subsequent conspiracy to mislead investigators looking into the incident,” the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Cameron’s team didn’t investigate how the search warrant was obtained by Louisville Metro police officers, or if the affidavit contained false information. He has asserted that doing so was “outside of the scope” of his office’s investigation.
After the speeches, Booker said he was proud of the individuals who “lifted their voices” against Cameron, adding that Kentuckians are calling for “justice” and “accountability.”
“What we understand now is, not only did Daniel Cameron not do his job, but there are real questions about what he knew, when he knew it, and how that impacted the outcome at the state level,” Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said on Saturday. “They will try to spin it as politics. But what you saw was people who … still live in fear because of what was done to [Taylor].”